These are the 9 House Republicans running for speaker

ByJack Forrest, CNN
Monday, October 23, 2023
9 Republicans vying for House speaker
The high-stakes race for House speaker enters a new phase this week, with a slate of new candidates vying for the gavel.

WASHINGTON -- The high-stakes race for House speaker enters a new phase this week, with a slate of new candidates vying for the gavel following Rep. Jim Jordan's exit from the race.

Some of the nine candidates are fresh faces in the race, while others have been here before, either in the latest saga to elect a new speaker after the ouster of Kevin McCarthy or during the former speaker's marathon, 15-round race in January.

Top row, from left: Gary Palmer, Mike Johnson, Tom Emmer, Dan Meuser and Kevin Hern. Bottom row, from left: Pete Sessions, Byron Donalds, Jack Bergman and Austin Scott
Getty Images

House Republicans are expected to hold a candidate forum Monday evening to hear from the candidates, though it is not clear if any of the GOP lawmakers will be able to gather the support necessary from their conference to secure the 217 votes needed to serve in the House's top spot.

Rep. Tom Emmer

Emmer, the House majority whip, said in a letter to his colleagues shared on Saturday that he was seeking the speakership with the goal of delivering "historic change."

McCarthy is backing the Minnesota Republican for speaker, delivering an early boost for his candidacy.

"He's been in the room with all of our successes," McCarthy said of Emmer Sunday, urging his conference to elect him by the end of this week. "He sets himself head and shoulders above all those others who want to run."

"This is not a time for a learning experience as speaker. Tom would be able to walk into the job and do it on day one," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Emmer, who voted to certify the 2020 election in a rebuke to former President Donald Trump, could face resistance from some members of the House Freedom Caucus skeptical of the current GOP leadership team and as Trump's allies have attacked him.

The former National Republican Congressional Committee chairman was first elected to Congress in 2014 and became majority whip earlier this year. Emmer, who lost a race for Minnesota governor in 2010, was a state representative from 2004 to 2008. He sits on the Financial Services Committee.

Rep. Kevin Hern

The Oklahoma Republican, who chairs the influential Republican Study Committee, told CNN on Friday that he plans to run for speaker and will work "hard" to get people on his side.

Hern chairs the conservative group known as the Republican Study Committee.

Republican hardliners in the House Freedom Caucus floated Hern's name as a possible nominee for speaker earlier this month. And during the deadlocked race for speaker in January, Hern, whose caucus wields a large bloc of GOP members, received a couple of anti-McCarthy protest votes in the eighth round of voting.

Hern was sworn in to the House in 2018 after a career working in various leadership positions at McDonald's, according to his House biography. He also worked as an aerospace engineer. Hern is a member of the House Ways and Means committee and co-chairs the Small Business and Franchise caucuses.

FILE - The House of Representatives hold a third vote on Republican Rep. Jim Jordan's candidacy to become the speaker, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Oct. 20, 2023.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Rep. Jack Bergman

Bergman, a 40-year veteran of the US Marines, is also running for the speaker role.

"My hat is in the ring," he said in a statement, "and I feel confident I can win the votes where others could not. I have no special interests to serve; I'm only in this to do what's best for our Nation and to steady the ship for the 118th Congress."

The Michigan lawmaker reached the rank of lieutenant general in the US Marines before retiring - making him the highest-ranking combat veteran to have ever served in the House, according to his office.

He was first elected to Michigan's 1st District in 2016. Bergman is a member of the House Armed Services Committee where he chairs the Intelligence and Special Operations Subcommittee.

Rep. Austin Scott

The Georgia Republican - who launched a last-minute bid against Jordan last week, but quickly dropped out and then supported his Ohio colleague - is running for speaker again now that the field is wide open, his spokesperson told CNN.

The seven-term congressman has been a vocal ally and defender of McCarthy, criticizing the Republicans who voted to remove the California Republican as speaker.

After receiving a bachelor's in business administration from the University of Georgia, Scott spent 20 years owning and operating an insurance brokerage firm. He began his political career in the Georgia House of Representatives in 1997, where he served until being elected to Congress in 2010.

Scott, who represents Georgia's 8th Congressional District, serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Armed Services Committee and the House Agriculture Committee.

Rep. Byron Donalds

The Florida Republican and Freedom Caucus member announced on X that he's seeking the speakership to advance a "conservative vision for the House of Representatives and the American people."

Donalds also received votes from the GOP's far-right members in January as a protest to McCarthy.

He is serving his second term, winning his first election to Congress in 2020 after GOP Rep. Francis Rooney vacated Florida's 19th Congressional District.

During his first campaign, Donalds described himself in an ad as a "Trump-supporting, gun-owning, liberty-loving, pro-life, politically incorrect Black man."

The Florida State University graduate worked in the banking, finance, and insurance industries before being elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2016, according to his office.

Rep. Mike Johnson

The Louisiana Republican, who serves as the House Republican conference vice chairman, also announced a run for speaker in a letter to his Republican colleagues Saturday, saying "After much prayer and deliberation, I am stepping forward now."

Johnson was first elected to the House in 2016. He also serves as a deputy whip for the House GOP and was previously chairman of the Republican Study Committee.

Johnson sits on the House Judiciary Committee, Select Committee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government and on the House Armed Services Committee.

Rep. Pete Sessions

Sessions of Texas announced his candidacy on Friday in a statement posted to X, describing himself as a "conservative leader who can unite the Conference."

He chaired the National Republican Congressional Committee from 2009 to 2012 and the House Rules Committee from 2013 to 2019. He currently serves on the Financial Services and Oversight and Reform Committees.

Sessions in 2018 lost a hotly contested race for his Dallas-area seat he'd held since 2003 to Democrat Colin Allred. He won a different Waco, Texas, district in 2020.

In 2019, Sessions was briefly embroiled in scandal after being pushed by associates of Trump ally Rudy Giuliani to seek the ouster of the US Ambassador to Ukraine - who was critical of Trump - at the same time as the associates were helping to bankroll his campaign. He was not charged with any wrongdoing.

Rep. Dan Meuser

The Pennsylvania Republican was announced as a candidate for the job by House GOP conference chair Elise Stefanik on Sunday.

First elected in 2018, Meuser was previously appointed as Pennsylvania's secretary of revenue in 2011 by former Gov. Tom Corbett, according to his office.

Meuser serves on the Financial Services and Small Business Committees, on which he serves as the chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access. He is also a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.

Rep. Gary Palmer

Palmer of Alabama has also entered the race.

He was elected to Alabama's 6th District in 2014 and serves as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee. Palmer also sits on the Committees on Oversight and Accountability, and Energy and Commerce.

Palmer was playing shortstop at the 2017 congressional Republican baseball practice where House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, and others at the game, were shot. Scalise, once Republicans' choice for speaker, has since dropped out after the GOP failed to coalesce around him and will not run again.

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